Richard Ernest was born on an August day in 1870 the fifth child of Richard Polding and Caroline nee Shelton. At that time they were living at 3 West Place Cottages, which was just off Chiswick High Road and west of Turnham Green Church. Richard, senior was described as a Milk seller on the birth certificate but he was in fact a Dairy Master and at one time had several milk rounds that covered the surrounding districts of Chiswick - the 1881 census shows him described as a Dairyman - Labourer, as were his two eldest sons William and Joseph. His cows grazed on Chiswick Back Common and outbuildings adjoining the Swan Public House which were used as milking sheds gave his business the name of Swan Farm Dairy. It was not only milk that was on offer as a look at an advertising booklet reveals that butter, cream and cheese were also being supplied to their customers. It is not known at what point they moved from West Place and into Ivy Cottage in Acton Lane but the house was to become the hub of family life for the next fifty years at least. The cottages in West Place were no longer in existence when I was a child and, of course, neither is Ivy Cottage now.

Three more children were to appear after Richard Ernest and the family did at one point take over an adjoining cottage for their increasing family. All the boys were at one time milk sellers but for unknown reasons the three eldest boys went their various ways and my grandfather decided to work in Finchley for the Express Dairy. It was as a milk seller, delivering to large establishments that he came to meet his wife Alice - she being in service at that time. They married in 1893 in Chiswick but then returned to Finchley to live as Richard was still working for the Express Dairy. In March 1896 he left the Express Dairies and he and Alice took on the running of a public house in Hemel Hampstead - a letter of commendation can be read from a link above. The rest of my grandfathers family life can be read about on the pages about Alice Millhouse - click on the links above.

It seems highly likely that the business was unable to sustain the livelihoods of six grown men settling down with families to raise. The one son staying to work with his father being Harry, the youngest son, who was unmarried and living at home. However, as Richard senior lost part of his leg and needed help Richard and Alice returned and took up residence at Southfields from where Richard commuted to help his father and brother on a daily basis. As their third child was born in 1907 in Hemel Hempstead and died in Chiswick eight months later it is to be presumed the move was made during that eight months.

By 1910 Richard, his address now being 13 Acton Lane, was to take out an insurance policy for the protection of his milk cart and for his horse. It was with the Reliance Fire and Accident Insurance corporation of Farringdon Stret, EC and shows that he was insuring a milk cart in 1905 for 42 which was now worth 20. The horse was a Grey gelding of 8 years of age and had been bought in 1907 for 12 and was still worth that amount three years later. The cart and the horse were insured for 25 each and personal insurance in the case of accident to the driver of the horse and cart, was for 100. Richard paid 1s and 1d a week on this policy - which in December of that year paid out 15s for an accident to the driver, so presumerably a minor one. As he states he had never before had an insurance policy it seems likely that this is when he took over the ownership of the dairy, due to his fathers disability and the lack of interest being shown by his younger brother Harry.

My grandfather was by all accounts a jovial man and well known for his liking for a beer and a bit of a gamble on the horses - a well liked Chiswick character but also alas not too good with the financial side of his business which he handed over to Alice to manage. However he was completely committed to his marriage and family, Alice meant everything to him and they seem to have had a very loving companionable union in spite of all their hardships. All the Polding boys were keen cricketers and played for Turnham Green cricket club with the accolade of having played the game with or against W.C.Grace the famous cricketer.

In around 1928 Richard won a small sum of money and he decided to use it for a holiday for his family for the first and only time. Being in trade however meant that they could not all go away at the same time so the family split up for their fortnight away in a rented bungalow on the Isle of Wight - Richard went one week with his sister Caroline, his daughter and grand-daughter Violet and Barbara, and his daughter-in-law Connie. The other week was the turn of Alice with the members of the family who had not been able to go for the first week joining those who could stay for the second.

Richard had a sad end to his life and it came earlier than it should have done. He had a bad dose of influenza which led to him being left with diabetes as a result which was followed up with a wound on his leg which failed to heal. This turned gangrenous and he had to have his leg amputated as a result. Although Alice wanted to nurse him herself at home this was not possible and much to her anguish, being unable to help him, he died in a Twickenham nursing home. On the 23rd October in 1935 Alice had taken him his as yet unsigned Will, a tacit acknowledgement that they knew he would not survive long and it must have been a very difficult thing for her to have to do. Richard died on the 11th November and the following announcement appeared in the local paper.


A familiar figure in local life will be missed as a result of the death, which took place on Monday, of Mr. Richard Polding, dairyman, of 13 Acton-lane. He had lived all his life of 65 years in Chiswick, and was a member of a well-known family of cricketers who at one time played for Turnham Green. He leaves a wife, four daughtes, and two sons, with whom the sincerest sympathy is felt.

A week later a piece appeared describing the funeral of Richard and listing all those who attended and who sent tributes -

This is the last WILL AND TESTAMENT of me RICHARD ERNEST POLDING of 13 Acton Lane Chiswick W.4 in the County of Middlesex made this 23rd day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred 35.

I hereby revoke all Wills by me at any time heretofore made.
I appoint my wife to be my executrix, and direct that all my just Debts and Funeral and Testamentary Expense shall be paid as soon as conveniently may be after my decease.

I Give and Bequeath unto my dear wife all my worldly possessions she being Alice Maude Mary Polding


In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 23 day of October 1935.

Signed by the Testater in the Presence of us,
present at the same time, who at his request,
in his presence, and in the presence of each
other, have subscribed our names as witnesses.

68 Elbe Street

Rye Cottage,
Otford, Kent
Bank Clerk

(established 1884)
Farms at Finchley, Hampstead and Herne Hill
dated 14th November 1896
Hemel Hampstead.

Dear Sir,

Richard Polding has requested me to write you with regard to his character while in this companys employment. My personal knowledge of him extends over about three years, and during the whole of this time I found him a good sticker to his work, never having absented himself at any time without previously obtaining my permission. He was sober and clean, and with regard to money matters, honest, and correct in his accounts. He was employed here for about five years in all, and I have reason to believe that this report of mine may be accepted as applying to his conduct through-out.
He left of his own accord in March last
Yours faithfully
for the Express Dairy Company Limited

on leaving the
of a

the search for his roots

Four years later in 1934 he gave his next to youngest daughter, Phyllis away upon her marriage - the photograph here below shows him on her wedding day and was to be the last photograph taken of him.
Newspaper cutting of

I have recently found where Alice Millhouse was living in
Finchley before she married Richard Polding and this must be
where they came to know each other. As Cook she would have
had direct contact with the tradesmen at the back door and
there was Richard selling his milk. I have not found the
address of where Richard was living in 1891 but it must have
been local as milk sellers make an early start.

The Census 1891

Alice is a Cook domestic servant to the family of Harry and
Florence Dixon who was a Solicitor from East Retford, Notts.
She is 19 years old and is one of two servants, the other
being a nurse, presumerably for the two children Constance 8
years and Ernest 3 years.

The names in the household sprang out at me as my aunt had
been given a second name of Florence, my mother had the name
of Constance ("I do not know where that came from") - she did
not like it! and Ernest - this name was given to her first
son. So the family had a great influence on her and one can
presume she was happy there to have used the names for her own
children later on.

This page last modified on Friday, September 12, 2008